Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Red Potato and Ham Quiche with Acorn Crust

As an update, we have been sticking to our $45 a week grocery budget. Some weeks we're under 10 or more dollars, and once been over by $5. I'd say that's pretty successful for people who are really craving grass-fed organic beef, and cheese right out of France, amongst other things. We've been able to go to the grocery store together, which helps take the pressure off of me for trying to make it work, so I'm grateful for that. We've been basing our grocery lists around Winco, which is a grocery store chock-full of bargains, including bulk bins where you can measure out what you need, scrap the fancy packaging, and save a buck or two that way. In regards to meals, we've been diligent in using a lot of dried beans (which you just have to remember to soak overnight), store-brand items, a lot of canned tomatoes, and frozen veges where we can sub them in. Another big saver is buying a piece of meat and using it for three meals, an idea I learned from my dear friend Lindsey. Although times are tough and we've had to mostly forego organic eating, we'll hopefully be back to doing what we really love; just in this time the important thing is that we can still eat meals that are satisfying and easy on the wallet.

This week for our menu planning, highlighting our budget, we bought a ham and used it three ways during the week. The first evening we ate it as a brown-sugar glazed ham with yams, second evening we used it diced in an Italian Pasta e Fagioli soup, which is a soup with beans, ham, small noodles, tomatoes, carrots, and a few other ingredients. For our final evening we used it in a quiche. Now quiche I am very fond of, it is not only delicious and comforting, but it is easy and cheap to make. 

This particular quiche is quite special though because it is not your run-of-the-mill crust. I am typically on the safe side when creating food, but because of my husband I have tried a few adventurous, out of the ordinary, meals. In this case, the crust is made with acorns. He researched it and pulled this amazing dough together for the crust, which is chewy, earthy, and flaky. It compliments the filling well, which is a standard red potato, ham, and cheese. I guess to describe it in one word this quiche would be titled "rustic".

Red Potato and Ham Quiche with Acorn Crust
Prep Time: 1 hr Cook Time: 45 minutes Serves: 4
Cook's Notes: Billy gathered these acorns on a hike we went on the last week of October, when the ground was covered with acorns. If you don't have acorns on hand, other nuts would also be a good substitute such as almonds or hazelnuts.

15 mountain fresh acorns, ripe (amber to dark brown in color)
1/4 cup water
1/4 olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
2 red potatoes, cubed and boiled till tender
1 cup diced ham
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
coarse sea salt, pepper to taste

Acorn Crust:
1) If acorns are fresh, dry in the oven at 175ºF, for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool.

2) Shell acorns, discard shells, blend in food processor until consistency of small gravel.

3) Boil acorns for 5-10 minutes to leach the tannic acids, taste a larger piece. If bitterness is still present, drain water, and boil acorns again in fresh water. Repeat until bitterness is gone (Billy did this three times).

4) Return to food processor and blend until finest consistency (another option is to use a coffee grinder for a smoother finished product).

5) Combine water and oil, and in a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and acorns. Add the water and oil to the flour blend, mix well, and form dough into a ball.

6) Roll out dough to about a 11-inch diameter to overflow a 9-inch pie dish.

Quiche Filling:
1) Preheat oven to 400ºF. Whisk together eggs, cream, and milk until frothy.

2) Add in potatoes, ham, and cheese, and stir until combined.

3) Pour mixture into prepared acorn crust. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4) Bake for 35 - 45 minutes, or until crust is browned and quiche is set. Let quiche rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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